Retiring Chief Sees Challenges Ahead For Air Guard

Story by Maj Kathy Salatas; Photos by TSgt Jim Sundahl & MSgt Jeffrey Myers   -   Posted Jan, 2001

BG McDevitt watches somberly while his General Officer flag is folded for the last time

Brigadier General James A. McDevitt, Chief of Staff for the Headquarters Washington Air National Guard, retired with honors on 3 Dec 2000 after 34 years of military service.

As the Chief of Staff, General McDevitt was responsible for directing and coordinating headquarters staff activities to support the 2400 members of the Washington Air National Guard.

The retirement ceremony was hosted by the Adjutant General, Major General Timothy Lowenberg, and the Commander of the WA ANG, Major General Franks Scoggins.  Major General Denny Hague (Ret), the previous WA ANG Commander, was also present.

General McDevitt concludes a long and illustrious career in the service of our nation and the Air National Guard and he will be missed.

General McDevitt began his military career by receiving his commission through the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.  After completing undergraduate navigator training and B-52 navigator/bombardier training he was assigned as a B-52G navigator Griffis AFB, NY.

BG McDevitt (l) with MG Scoggins (r)

His next assignment was weapons systems officer in the F-4D/E and standardization/evaluation flight examiner at Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC.  This latter assignment included temporary deployments to Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Spain, Germany and England.

After separating from the Air Force he jointed the 116th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Washington Air National Guard, as a radar intercept officer in the F-101.  When the unit converted to KC-135 aircraft he became a navigator and has maintained that qualification. During his career in the 141st Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB, he served as a weapons systems officer, a master navigator with more than 4,700 flying hours, instructor and commander of the 116th Air Refueling Squadron.

He was activated for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and served as the operation officer for the 1709th Air Refueling Squadron (Provisional) in Saudi Arabia.

In 1991 he became the director of operations at Headquarters, WA ANG, Camp Murray. In 1996 he was promoted to brigadier general and became the chief of staff of the WA ANG.

Despite his long list of accomplishments, General McDevitt sums up his contribution to the Guard with typical humility;

"In some small way I hope I was able to increase the visibility of, and confidence in the Air National Guard within the business community and with our congressional delegation."

When asked to address some of the challenges facing his successor: "As I see them, the challenges are at least twofold: first, the Air National Guard needs to continue to develop the partnership with the active component, by way of future total force initiatives, which enhances the reliance on and credibility of the Air National Guard, while at the same time preserving our unique "Citizen Soldier" culture", said General McDevitt.  "Secondly, the Air National Guard needs to continue to enhance the relationships with employers, of all sizes and at all levels, including incentives to employers, which will insure continued employer support in the face of our operational tempos which remain at an all-time high."

BG McDevitt embraces his supportive wife of many years

General McDevitt's military decorations and awards include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster, Combat Readiness Medal with six oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two oak leaf cluster, Air Force Longevity Service Award with seven oak leaf clusters, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, WA ANG Aerial Achievement Medal, and WA ANG Commendation Medal.

General McDevitt is a graduate of the University of Washington, Gonzaga University School of Law and Gonzaga University School of Business.  In his civilian career General McDevitt is a partner in the Spokane law firm of Preston, Gates and Ellis, P.S.